PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Bait And Switch

Beck-at-MGM-Fenway-Music-Hall


I would venture to guess (without checking the interweb) that Ticketmaster was established something like 30 years ago. In my not fully informed mind, this was the start of online ticket sales, and I'm sure I was immediately irritated by the fees. Prior to online sales, if you wanted to see the Rolling Stones in Atlanta, you'd have to do what Hache Verde did when he famously tried to awaken our favorite acerbic high school principle at 2 in the morning to head to the Civic Center in Atlanta, GA to buy tickets for a show at Fox Theater.

Fast Forward to early October, 2022. I've obtained tickets for a strange double-bill: 1) Beck; and 2) a Montreal-based band called Arcade Fire. I bought the tickets to see Beck, figuring that, at worst, Arcade Fire would be harmless. Stranger still, I learn that Beck would be first to take the stage.

Shortly after buying these tickets and forking over exhorbitant fees, I encounter a friend – a Canadian friend, truth be told – whose daughter was playing soccer with my daughter, and I ask if he has ever heard of Arcade Fire. His reaction, at first, is to look at me for signs of a punch line. Then, he turns almost angry. "They're one of my favorite artists," he says, incredulous. That's the way Canadians are when you dis their favorite rock bands.

I had never heard of them.

Anyway, it seems I'm going to see this band, but only after the great American (nutty Scientologist, but who cares) Beck does an acoustic set.

So about a month before the show, I get an email from Ticketmaster, my favorite agency that has a monopoly on ticket sales, informing me that Beck will apparently not be playing at the Beck concert. Instead, a Haitian band I'd never heard of would be replacing Beck at the Beck show. Which, it seems, is not the Beck show, but is the Arcade Fire show. But I'm not to worry: "Your tickets are still good!" What a relief!

As you might imagine, I immediately seek to rectify the situation by telling Ticketmaster that I don't care that my tickets are still good. I don't want them anymore. To which Ticketmaster replies that "we are just the ticket vendor. The promotor is not offering refunds at this time." I then have my battery of lawyers reach out to MGM Fenway, the alleged promotor, to threaten the legal action if I do not get a refund. (In fact, I reach out to the Office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts to loudly complain about the bait-and-switch.) The acerbic high school principal, who is to accompany me, is about as interested in seeing Arcade Fire as I am. In other words, he isn't interested at all. I had already challenged him to find a single good song by Arcade Fire, something I could hang my hat on back when the worst of the situation was that we'd see Beck first and then would have to sit through Montreal-infused rock fare. Now a good song was needed just so that the night wouldn't be a total bust.

Meanwhile, I offer up our tickets for sale. Mind you, I had already bought tickets for $56.50, which came with a whopping $25.75 in fees (nearly half the ticket price). Now, by reselling through Ticketmaster, I would incur new fees. Additionally, people buying our tickets would also pay fees. (Yes, it did occur to me during this process that I have had a lifelong career in the wrong industry.) However, I was willing to take a modest loss, so I sought to price my resale tickets below other offers already listed. Alas, the evil promoter, which by now was quaking in its boots, disallowed the reselling of tickets at a price below face value. The best I could do was match what Ticketmaster was selling tickets for. And since there were still plenty of tickets left, only a sell-out would cause someone to buy my tickets.

A week before the concert, my acerbic friend and I were resigned to enduring this show. No doubt, we'd have fun, despite our lack of interest in the music and MGM Fenway's efforts to stymie us on reselling the tickets. Maybe we'd enjoy a drink, and there was still an outside chance that the music would be tolerable. This was something that we joked about relentlessly, as we were pretty sure that the music was not going to be our cup of tea.

When Arcade Fire finally came on and played their first song, Age of Anxiety I, my acerbic friend to turn to me and yelled, "This band is lame!"  But from that point on, the band ripped through the rest of their set, playing an entertaining array of Québécois-infused pop music and ending the show with a superb rendition of the Pixies "Debaser."

The next morning, my wife, who had heard of my Ticketmaster and MGM Fenway complaints many more times than she cared to, asked me how the show was. "Strangely enough," I had to admit, "It was really good."

Never saw the Haitian band. 

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Flight School

What is it with British Airways? This airline flew me to and from Italy recently but didn’t give me the typical modern-day service experience I’ve come to expect in air travel, in which flight attendants offer thimbles of tepid water free of charge and pretzels for purchase at around $10 per handful.

Unlike my unhappy experience flying United Airlines from Hawaii two years ago, when I was given a small cup of water and no more “because we only have 18 bottles of water on the plane,” British Airways fed me and my family a full-blown “hot supper” of curried chicken, garden salad, roll with butter, and a cold chocolate pudding for dessert. Plus, they threw in a couple of wee-bottles of red wine. No credit cards were involved. There were fresh blankets and pillows on every seat, and coffee or tea at the end of the meal. When I woke up from my brief slumber hours later, there was juice and coffee, and little breakfast snacks. I half expected to find myself among clean-shaven men in suits and women wearing fancy hats and bright red lipstick, like it was the 1950s and Pan-Am ruled the skies.

It may be worth my asking Hache Verde to rate his airlines experiences, as he travels far and wide. Same goes for Mook, who allegedly was in Israel recently, no doubt eating falafel on our tax dollars.

Next time I fly, it won’t be across the ocean, and I’ll probably get the same no-food or drinks treatment, as well as no blankets or pillows. However, I won’t complain, lest I get dragged down the aisle, bloodied and beaten.

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Black Joe

You may not believe this, but I’m currently riding a huge emotional high. As I’m well-known for having a gloomy demeanor, to find me walking with a spring in my step must be jarring for the American public. If I’ve taken my fellow citizens out of their comfort level, I apologize. It’s just what happens to me when I see a great rock show.

The obvious question is, what show could possibly have changed my normally dour disposition, even in these trying days of political assininity? The answer is Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. (But you knew that!)

First of all, how am I able to see this band for just $17? Does Black Joe have a benefactor or something, allowing people like me to see the show at a steep discount? If not, the ticket price makes no economic sense. I can do almost nothing else in the world for $17, but somehow I’m able to see this great soul/funk band tear it up in the small Middle East club in Cambridge, MA, on the corner of Mass Ave and Brookline Street, where so much great music comes and goes. Since I may be the last person on earth who actually buys physical copies of albums, I don’t think they are making much money from CD or record sales. So what gives?

My friend Tim says bands like this are licensing their work. I suppose. But can they possibly earn enough to make ends meet in this extra large band that Black Joe totes around? I believe there were six Honeybears on stage with him on Friday night, blowing into horns, banging and strumming and so forth. That’s a lot of sweaty guys to put into hotels, feed, and drive around, all because of licensing deals and $17 a ticket in a venue that holds about 350 people.

I’m sure you’re expecting me to review the show in detail, but that would be a waste of your time. All you need to know is that I give it such a huge thumbs up that I’m going to demand that Howard go to Blackjoelewis.com, select the “shows” page, and then buy a low-priced ticket to see the band in Minneapolis. That way, he can finally see them do “I’m Broke” live and in person.

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Registered Mail

Just because your email program can tell if I’ve opened the spam you’ve sent me doesn’t mean it knows if I’ve actually absorbed and internalized your slogans. Just ask anyone in my family: my eyes can pass over the little squiggly words on the screen and my lips can move as I read what’s in front of me, but my mind is pondering more important things:

Will Tom Brady finally win that elusive fifth Super Bowl ring this year? When will WEEI begin selling Red Sox sponsorship slots on a per-pitch basis? And when our coastal cities inevitably succumb to rising seas, will the dispersing of us urban liberals to inland locales mean we can finally win both the popular vote and the Electoral College in the same year?

I hate to break the news to you, but we boys in this household are famous for nodding in agreement at the things you gals say whilst our minds are busy wondering if we’ve put too much chocolate malt in the beer recipe. We’re not proud of it, but dammit we’re man enough to admit it. And don’t tell me you didn’t notice this years ago.

So go ahead and use your analytical tools. My brain laughs at you! Even as I write these words, I’m actually thinking that I should check weather-dot-com to see how warm it is in San Diego, to where Richard has repaired. And how cold it’s going to be in Minnesota in February, 2018, when Howard scores tickets for Uncle Bobby, Mook, and yours truly to see the Pats win another title.

Sorry, did you say something?

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J'Biden Era Haikuage

 

People's Arms. That's right!

200 million shots

In 100 days

 

We are good people

But we still have far to go

Repair. Restore. Heal.

 

There's nothing new here

The Affordable Care Act

We're restoring it 

 

America's Day

Democracy is fragile

The world is watching 

 

Strategy is based

On Science, not politics

Truth, not denial

 

 

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